If one accepts the idea that UFOs are extraterrestrial spaceships, and one accepts the idea that extraterrestrials have been around for quite some considerable time (ancient astronauts), then one can and should extrapolate back in our planet’s history even further and postulate that they might have been around for most, if not all of our geological history.
This essay is totally speculative; it’s time to really jump off the deep end. The general gist of the speculation centres on the idea that, an answer to the Fermi Paradox, ‘where is everybody?’ is that IMHO, ‘They’re heeeere.’ UFOs, well the bona fide UFOs (those that retain their ‘unidentified’ status after proper investigation) are a manifestation of extraterrestrial visitation to Planet Earth. That extraterrestrial – Planet Earth connection goes back a long, long way.
And, I think we’re property!
Panspermia is the idea that simple, microbial life can be transported around the cosmos via natural means. For example, meteorites can carry spores inside them and when they intersect a suitable abode, seed said abode. That’s ballistic panspermia. There’s also direct panspermia. That’s where the seeding is done not naturally, but artificially – by intelligent life forms or extraterrestrials as far as we are concerned.
If we accept that direct panspermia is a possibility; that there could be alien Johnny Appleseeds out there deliberately seeding barren but otherwise environmentally suitable (as in bio-friendly) planets, and if we accept that Earth would have been noted, logged and in the cosmic databank way before humans were thought of in anyone’s philosophy, and we accept the possibility as outlined in the introduction to The War of the Worlds that Earth life might be to aliens what “creatures that swim and multiple in a drop of water” are to us, well, maybe we’re the petrii dish! We were seeded, we evolved, and we’re under the microscope. [Actually the Appleseed bit is optional for the following discussion, though it might help account for a ‘we are property’ attitude.]
Panspermia doesn’t invalidate Darwinian evolution, although it might be difficult from the fossil record to distinguish natural from artificial selection, in case aliens took a hand in guiding life’s pathways along. The only possible evidence I could see for that might be evolutionary biologist and palaeontologist (the late) Stephen Jay Gould’s evolutionary theory of ‘punctuated-equilibrium’ where life forms exist for lengthy periods of time where hardly any evolution happens, interspersed with brief time periods where all evolutionary hell breaks loose and there’s rapid change.
By analogy, one can look at the canine branch of the tree of life. It’s probably been fairly steady-as-she-goes for millions of years, then ‘all of a sudden’ dogs of all shapes and sizes and breeds appear. It’s a punctuated-equilibrium happening. Why? Humans, that’s why. It’s not natural selection but quick-smart artificial selection. Dogs aren’t the only example – all manner of crops, tropical and goldfish breeds, and any and all manner of organisms that take human’s fancy have been subjected to artificial selection for reasons ranging from the highly desirable (drought resistant wheat) to the totally frivolous (goldfish with ultra-bludging eyes; dog breeds who resemble their wolf cousins as closely as chalk resembles cheese). Well, perhaps, in terms of the abduction scenario, we strike ET’s fancy!
Okay, so that’s a hypothesis. Surely sceptics would argue that aliens would have prevented the asteroid that slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago resulting in a mass extinction event that included all the non-avian dinosaurs. Well, not necessarily. We don’t watch our lab animals around the clock. Our aliens might have been off duty, on R&R, 65 million years ago. Maybe they only pop around once every 10,000 years or so to check on things and thus totally missed the big extinction event. Or, they may have deliberately let it collide, not because of any non-interference directive, but because the event was part of the natural scheme of things and wanted to see what would happen – a natural experiment. I mean we’ve no qualms about introducing a penicillin bullet into a microbe inhabited petrii dish just to see what happens. We also rarely interfere in the natural scheme of wildlife biology. I mean we may film a pack of hyenas chasing down and killing their prey for a TV documentary, but we don’t interfere.
If aliens allowed that mass extinction, if aliens seeded Earth, if aliens indulged in prehistoric artificial selection, then aliens might be taking a hands-on approach (abductions anyone?) with regards to our species. But surely, sceptics would argue, we are an intelligent species, several cuts above microbes and plants and fish and such. Surely aliens wouldn’t think of us as lab rats and study us in that War of the Worlds cold and calculating manner? Would they? I wouldn’t bet on it.
Quite apart from us humans breeding, raising, artificially selecting, and either slaughtering, hunting or experimenting on lesser mammalian species, even those quite evolutionary close to us, a hardly uncommon practice and totally encouraged by the Bible by the way, we equally hunt and slaughter and experiment on species we know to be intelligent – like apes and whales. And we can hardly pat ourselves on the back in our treatment of fellow humans. Quite apart from illegal homicides (as in murder) and legal homicides (like sanctioned warfare or executions), there’s the treatments dished out by the Inquisition (all in the name of God). Then there’s, for your consideration, the experimentation the Nazis did on undesirables; actually producing useful, even valuable medical knowledge in the process – knowledge in the textbooks studied by today’s medical students. The military is well known for using the common troops as unknowing (and probably unwilling if they had known) guinea pigs or cannon fodder, in particular when it came to CBR (chemical – biological – radiological) warfare. Drugs, sooner or later, have to be tested on humans. Someone – actually a group of someone’s – has to be the first guinea pig. “As we sow, so shall we reap”, I believe the saying goes. So, if we can’t take any moral high ground, how can we assume aliens would? Aliens, even if not quite in the Klingon or Romulan class, shouldn’t of necessity be expected to be all lovey-dovey and all caring. They could easily be quite amoral. It’s not invasion, but it’s equally not diplomatic relations. Perhaps they consider us as their property!
I’d like to explore this idea that we (i.e. – Planet Earth) are property. Is it so outrageous to think that one day some private mining magnate may buy (actually probably lay claim to) a mineral rich asteroid, or will all Solar System real estate be forever kept out of private ownership? What about the greater beyond – real estate in interstellar space? If a group of private citizens travel to Vega or Sirius or Tau Ceti or Epsilon Eridani with a view to becoming interstellar real estate entrepreneurs, who’s going to stop them laying claim to one or more of the planets that might be orbiting around these stars? – The United Nations? I think not. If there happen to be any natives in the vicinity, perhaps our entrepreneurs might negotiate with these alien locals to somehow buy (or barter more likely as not) for an entire planet. And is there anything fundamentally different in principle between buying or settling a quarter acre block vis-à-vis an entire planet?
But surely the presence of indigenous life forms would make a difference. Wanna bet? You buy a corn field – the corn plants get no say. You purchase a dairy farm with dairy cows or a racing stable stocked with horses – they equally get no say. You buy a home – the indigenous residents of termites, cockroaches and rodents get no say. You could buy a remote island complete with indigenous wildlife – which of course has no say in the matter. Now I ‘own’ two cats. I am responsible for them under the law. They don’t know that. If they did know that they’d probably object in the strongest possible way, like scratch my eyes out! Still, they are property and no correspondence can be entered into on the matter. So, we own other lower life forms and they don’t know it. Maybe a higher life form owns us, and we don’t know it!
But surely there must be some interstellar code against owning an abode with intelligent life on it. Why? And how intelligent does the intelligence have to be? – Octopus level? – Parrot level? – At dolphin level? – Maybe at gorilla level? I just think that owning a planet having intelligence on it doesn’t cut any ice, especially if possession occurred before that intelligence evolved or the intelligence in question isn’t in any position to argue the point. This doesn’t mean the owners have invasion or occupation as an agenda. As with the Zoo Hypothesis (we’re the animals in the zoo; aliens are the zoo keepers), you can buy a zoo and be kind to the residents or study the residents, even experiment on the residents of the zoo. But for the most part, the owners leave 99.9% of the locals alone 99.9% of the time – but the residents are still property.
The alleged alien occupants of UFOs leave 99.9% of us humans alone, 99.9% of the time. Maybe they see us as property, maybe they don’t. But there’s nothing in the concept that belongs exclusively in The Twilight Zone.
The ‘we are property (in a zoo)’ hypothesis explains the Fermi Paradox; it explains the observations that UFOs are no threat to national security; it explains the lack of any alien invasion; it explains the lack of any alien’s ‘take me to your leader’ scenario; it explains the general UFO abduction phenomena*; it probably accounts for the overall ‘cattle’ mutilation area. It doesn’t explain crop circles – unless one would equate them with the sort of diversions, toys, monkey bars, bird swings and other associated furniture you can find in any pet store that we give to amuse our own owned animals. Or, alternatively, perhaps crop circles are akin to the sort of symbols (pictograms) behavioural scientists have used in experiments in communicating with apes and monkeys.
*The UFO abduction phenomena makes sense in that it mirrors what wildlife biologists often do in the field – capture, study, tag and release.
Science librarian; retired.
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